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Welshsox
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Beginner needs some help

Hi

Im a total rock music fan but lately ive been listening to some different genres of music.

Anyways ive been listening to a SACD of Pictures at an Exhibition ( for rock fans this is well known from ELP ).

I was really impressed with the scale and grandeur of this peice of music ( no jokes about my inexperience please !! ) and would appreciate some recommedations of similar large scale orchestral peices.

Thanks

Alan

Jan Vigne
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Re: Beginner needs some help

I would start with "The Planets" and "Pictures at an Exhibition". Look through the advertisements in Stereophile for reissued classic classical. Pick what sounds interesting and do a web search on the piece. Usually, audiophile editions are of worthy pieces with great sonics. I would suggest anything by Solti leading the Chicago Symphony. It's schmaltz at its best and provides a sonic thrill ride in almost every performance.

Elk
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Re: Beginner needs some help

No need to apologize, "Pictures" is great fun. Plus, it starts with a great trumpet solo in the Ravel orchestral arrangement.

My guess is that you likely will enjoy music of the romantic period or in this style.

Let's start with some fun: Reference Recordings' "MEPHISTO & CO." RR-82. Incredible sound and guilty pleasure music.

As RR describes it: "Ghosts, goblins, spirits and demons run amok in this program of infernal orchestral favorites: MEPHISTO WALTZ (Liszt), NIGHT ON BALD MOUNTAIN (Mussorgsky), TAM O' SHANTER (Arnold) and many more in an explosive witches' brew!

They forgot to mention Paul Dukas' Sorcerer's Apprentice, the music Mickey Mouse gets himself in trouble to in Fantasia.

I suggest Sergei Rachmaninoff's piano concerti, his Rhapsody on a Theme of Paganini, and three symphonies. If you are a pop music fan of a "certain age" you will recognize a number of the themes.

Another is Dmitri Shostakovich's Fifth Symphony. Very approachable.

Holst's "Planet's" is a great suggestion. You will recognize a number of these themes also and will likely catch John William's inspiration for "Star Wars".

Let's see . . .

Hector Berlioz's, Symphonie fantastique Op. 14 is a hoot. He wrote it to depict an opium dream. It includes a wonderful recreation of his head bouncing down the stairs of the scaffold after having been beheaded.

Alexander Borodin's Symphony #2. Pretty, lyrical - many great singable tunes.

Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov's Sch

linden518
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Re: Beginner needs some help

Man, I'm happy you're getting into classical. Welcome aboard! In addition to Jan & Elk's excellent recommendations:

Bruckner's Symphony #4 (The Romantic) conducted by Karl Bohm in an excellent remastered Decca "Legends" recording.

Mahler #5 conducted by Barbirolli & Mahler #9 conducted by Abbado.

Stravinsky's "Rite of Spring" conducted by Valery Gergiev. This is a live account, and it feels live, red-blooded. This is my go-to auditioning disc when testing gears. You'll see why.

Debussy's "La Mer" plus other orchestral works, conducted by Bernard Haitink.

Britten's "War Requiem" (Rattle cond.)

Richard Strauss's "Also Sprach Zarathustra" (you know, from 2001 Space Odyssey?) and etc... (Fritz Reiner cond.)

A good budget Richard Strauss sampler disc is the Deutsches Gramophone recording of Karajan going through "Four Last Songs" (with Janowitz singing) and "Metamorphosen," the 2 late masterpieces of Strauss, the emotional pinnacle of his music. It's like 9 bucks, dude, from Amazon w/ free shipping. I'm not a fan of Karajan, but this disc is outstanding, especially at the price, and you almost never see "Four Last Songs" paired up with "Metamorphosen." Plus you get a crackling account of "Tod und Verklarung" to boot.

Welshsox
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Re: Beginner needs some help

Hi

Thanks for the info and ill check out all the suggestions.

I dont really know how to say what i want to ask so im going to try and hope it doesnt sound to stupid.

Classic tracks that appeal to me are things like the 1812, Dvorak's New World, Pictures. These i know are popular classic peices but what appeals about them is that they feel to me to be like the classical music equivalent of heavy rock, good solid peices of music that are very purposeful and are not fluffy in their intentions, does this analogy make sense to anyone ?

Elk
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Re: Beginner needs some help

Your analogy makes sense to me. I think I know what you mean. Thus, the suggestions I made.

I tried to keep the pieces to those that are readily understandable to the new classical listener, with good solid emotional appeal, with some good fun fireworks as well as gorgeous melodies to luxuriate in.

The Dvorak is another great example,

Others that find they like classical music approach it from the the Vivaldi Seasons and similar pieces. Others find this akin to chickens scratching.

I am impressed that you are willing to listen to music that is new to you. Thumbs up!

For most people their listening preferences are set by what was popular when they were in HS and college. Thus all the stations dedicated to specific decades of pop music.

Poor Audiophile
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Re: Beginner needs some help

I can relate. While I rarely listen to Rock anymore(more into Bluegrass lately)I tell people I like "big" orchestral recordings.I'm not into solo violin music for example. I don't know how to read or play music, but I know what I like to listen to. Being a rank amateur here may I also suggest:
Reference Recordings 30th anniversary sampler. Good stuff!
Also, someone gave me 2 volumes by Time-Life called Classical Thunder; the name speaks for itself! The Sound quality is decent & the music "rocks". Vol 1 opens with Also Sprach Zarathustra by Strauss. Also has Fanfare for the Common Man by Aaron Copeland.

Welshsox
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Re: Beginner needs some help

Well ive taken the plunge for Mahler # 8 and a Solti collection with the CSO

Looking forward to listening !!

Alan

Elk
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Re: Beginner needs some help

Even though I have been listening to and enjoying classical music since I was an elkin, I still find Mahler to be an acquired taste. Others love his music on first listening. Thus I didn't include Mahler in my suggestions.

It will be great fun to learn what you think after you listen to it a few times.

linden518
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Re: Beginner needs some help

I'd agree w/ Elk that Mahler is a definite plunge into the deep end. Also if you start w/ the 8th! Most of his symphonies are great & deserve merit, but for a beginner starting out, I'd say the most accessible might be the 5th, with that beautiful & somewhat familiar Adagietto movement, and the 9th.

Let us know how you like #8, though!

Welshsox
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Re: Beginner needs some help

Now i understand why Mahler is not a good starter !!

Its sort of like sound of music meets Black Sabbath !!!

The chroal/vocal part is definetly going to take some work

smejias
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Re: Beginner needs some help


Quote:
Its sort of like sound of music meets Black Sabbath !!!

I'm not familiar with Mahler, but that sounds awesome to me.

linden518
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Re: Beginner needs some help


Quote:
Its sort of like sound of music meets Black Sabbath !!!


This is, like, the line of the week. Stephen, in your blog, you should have "Line of the Week" post every Friday. And for your 1st post, you can comment on this sublime analysis of Mahler by Welsh. Too good to read alone!

smejias
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Re: Beginner needs some help

I like that idea. Thank you very much. I will start today.

Welshsox
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Re: Beginner needs some help

You a link to your blog please

linden518
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Re: Beginner needs some help
defgibbon
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Re: Beginner needs some help

Mahler 2nd symphony might be a better place to start an exploration into Gustav's world. There's a Telarc version out there with soprano Kathleen Battle that just smolders. It's older, so might be out of print...

It occurs to me that, while these are some (many) excellent starter pieces for a classical newbie, no one has yet mentioned the grandaddy of all accessible symphonies, Beethoven's Ninth. In case you're not familiar with it, just get it. His Fifth and Sixth are pretty spectacular (and recognizable) too...

Welshsox
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Re: Beginner needs some help

Its becoming very obvious that the world of classical music is immense and that its going to take a long time to understand everything !!

I think the initial reaction is that you gravitate towards famous bits of music just because you recognize them, this seems to be the easiest way to get into classical music. The problem is that with contemporary music its pretty easy to know that if u liked say led zeppelin 1-3 then your going to like led zep 4. Im not sure yet but that doesnt appear to be the case with classical music, you have to judge each peice more carefully on its own merits and not just follow the crowd as its very easy and safe to do with contemporary music.

How about a new theme, top ten classical riffs ?

Has that ever been discussed ?

Alan

Elk
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Re: Beginner needs some help


Quote:
Now i understand why Mahler is not a good starter !!

Its sort of like sound of music meets Black Sabbath !!!


Alan, you are a hoot!

You are also clearly getting it.

Welshsox
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Re: Beginner needs some help

Im taking a new approach.

Ive seen hundreds of rock concerts from a large majority of bands going back to my first Rainbow !! concert in 79. Ive got a very very good grip on what music should sound like played through a hifi, i think thats why im a little anti hifi in terms of the really expensive stuff that sounds very nice but nothing like real music.

So to gain at least a glimpse of this in teh classical world im off tonight to watch the Chicago symphony Orchestra doing their thing. Im really looking forward to hearing classical music played by what ive been told is one of the worlds great orchestra's in a great hall.

Im just intrigued by how one person playing a violin in a hall is going to sound.

Alan

linden518
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Re: Beginner needs some help


Quote:
to gain at least a glimpse of this in teh classical world im off tonight to watch the Chicago symphony Orchestra doing their thing. Im really looking forward to hearing classical music played by what ive been told is one of the worlds great orchestra's in a great hall.


There you go, boss. Now you're talking!

Elk
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Re: Beginner needs some help

Have a blast! And be sure to give us your report.

Hearing live unamplified acoustic music convinced me long ago that we simply can't capture this sound with electronics. The transparency, openness, ease - it's amazing.

Welshsox
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Re: Beginner needs some help

Hi

Well its 2 am and ive returned via a local drinking establishment !!

The evening started out badly, the first peice was by Dubessy and hes French so nothing doing there. At this point it wasnt going well and i wasnt happy

Thankfully the second peice was by Prokofiev, his first violin concerto. Well they had this guy Vadim Repin as the lead violin player, if you would have told be before hand that one guy playing one little violin in a hall of 2-3000 people could have everyone holding their breath id have said you were full of shit !!! this guy was incredible, you could hear every little vibration and movement and how in the hell his little 300 year old violin could fill a hall that size up is a mystery.

The last peice was Stravinskys Firebird, this was awesome. the power and emotion of a full orchestra really does have to be witnessed first hand. One strange thing was that everything sounded better with my eyes closed, no idea why !!

So bottom line is that average classical is very easily reproduced by hifi but world class stuff just has so much raw emotion that theres no way to reproduce it, how in the world can a hifi reproduce 3000 people collectively holding their breath in anticipation of a single violin note !!!

I think i have a long way to go before a classical concert beats out Deep Purple !! but i have bought tickets fot the CSO's performance of Pictures at an exhibition later in the year.

Alan

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Re: Beginner needs some help


Quote:
So bottom line is that average classical is very easily reproduced by hifi but world class stuff just has so much raw emotion that theres no way to reproduce it, how in the world can a hifi reproduce 3000 people collectively holding their breath in anticipation of a single violin note !!!


Alan, sounds like you chose a good one for your first concert. Vadim Repin is a great violinist. I would have loved to hear his account of the Prokofiev. And you're right - there is no way you can reproduce the concert hall experience. But with all the excellent hi-fi gear, you can get closer to that experience than ever before, I think.

Since you loved the "Firebird," I'm going to reiterate one of my recommendations I made to you before. Stravinsky's "Rite of Spring" conducted by Valery Gergiev. It's a recording of a live concert & it feels almost as electrifying as a live occasion. There might be more balanced reading of this score, but when it comes to leap-out-of-your-skin excitement, you can't beat this record.

Get this one, put it in your system. Let it just play & close your eyes to listen to it & tell us what you think!

Elk
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Re: Beginner needs some help

Great report!

I would not have thought of us as a fan of impressionism so leave Debussy and other French composes of the same period alone.

Absolutely get the recording of the Rite of Spring suggested above. It will blow you away.

I share your fascination, how can such a little instrument project the way it does?

Did you also notice the effortless low bass that just envelopes you as you listen? Even when played quietly, the bowed bass strings have incredible presence.

Welshsox
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Re: Beginner needs some help

Hi

Ive been playing with equipment lately so ive been focused elsewhere a bit.

Anyways, one of the main things that has happened is that ive now got back into LP's. I dont want to start any discussion whatsoever on the pros/cons of this, but what would be great is to get similar recommendations kindly made earlier in the thread but for LP versions that are easily available.

Thanks

Alan

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Re: Beginner needs some help

Glad you are interested in exploring new music venues. There have been some good suggestions so far. You might also look into the music of Alan Hovhaness /Symphony #2 and Mysterious Mountain may be good starts. Also Carl Orff's Carmina Burana may be worth a try. There are many more and I will try to give you them as I think of them Hope you will continue to explore this type of music in the future and find what exites you. That is what it is all about.

Welshsox
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Re: Beginner needs some help

Hi

One thing that is becoming obvious to me as I further explore classical music is how different recordings can be. I have got several recordings of Pictures at an Exhibition by different orchestras on various mediums CD, SACD, DVD-A and LP. forgetting the different mediums the various recordings are totally different.

Is this a standard thing across classical music, it almost looks as if with experience im going to pick out a favourite say, CSO or Solti or LSO or whatever and follow them more than I am the actual musical work ? is that a reasonable perception or am i generalizing to much.

On a seperate note does anyone know any good sources of new classical LP's apart from the $30-$40 big online shops.

Alan

Elk
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Re: Beginner needs some help

If you are noticing this already you are a sensitive thoughtful listener!

This is part of the fun and excitement of listening to classical music. Hearing a new effective interpretation of a piece you already now well - new lines appearing, different phrasing, tempi, etc. - can raise goosebumps.

At least for me, I have preferences among performers and conductors, but the are no hard and fast rules. The conductor that is great with Mozart may be just an average conductor of Beethoven.

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